Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Yarns - Cotton Classic & Cotton Classic Lite

Los Angeles Pullover
The tulips are blooming in Northern Illinois!  Time to put away the snow shovels, roll out the bar-b-q grill . . . and switch to spring knitting!

"Spring" knitting?  Yup.  As in lighter yarns, lighter colors and lighter projects. 

Spring Yarn.  Put away the heavy wools!  It's time for lighter weights in cotton and linens, refreshing yarns that will breathe and wick to keep you cool while you look cool!

Bonus:  Tahki's Cotton Classic Lite and Cotton Classic are both 100% Mercerized Cotton, and both are on sale at 20% off until May 31st. 

New Leaf Shell
Spring Colors.  Deep brown, black, navy blue and forest green look great against the winter snow, but spring makes me think of light pastels like amethyst, light blue, bubblegum pink and light lavender.

Spring Projects.  It's cozy to have a heavy afghan or sweater on your needles (and on your lap!) as you knit away the cold winter months, but who wants anything but sunshine on their lap during the warm spring days!  Vests, airy summer sweaters and sleeveless tanks are the perfect spring projects.  They are comfortable to knit on a warm day - and you can wear them immediately, no stashing your completed project away waiting for next winter. We've got some great light weight cotton projects for you in Cotton Classic and Cotton Classic Lite.

Olive You free pattern!
Bonus:  Want a free pattern?  Get the "Olive You" fitted vest pattern FREE with the purchase of any amount of Cotton Classic Lite!

The Mercerized cotton of Cotton Classic Lite is an ideal fine gauge yarn for crochet work.  Maybe a lacy cardigan or light-weight shell for spring?  Let Cotton Classic Lite make your stitch patterns pop!

Stuff for Kids!  Kids are rough on their clothes.  I mean, really rough.  Cotton holds up well, and is easy to wash.  With bold colors and machine washability, it's easy to see why so many parents (and grandparents) love dressing their children in Cotton Classic Lite.

John Mercer
So what is Mercerized Cotton?  It is named after John Mercer, who invented the process in 1844.  A chemist and a fabric dyer, Mercer treated cotton fibers with sodium hydroxide.  The process made the cotton easier to dye, which was his intent, and as a pleasant surprise it also made the cotton much stronger.  Unfortunately, the process also caused cotton fabric to shrink, so it wasn't used much until the process was improved (and the shrinking stopped) in the 1890s.  Today crocheters favor Mercerized Cotton to give lightweight yarn extra strength. 

Happy Knitting and Crocheting . . . . Amy

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sock of the Month Program & Sock Knitting Basics

Launch Pad Socks
This spring, we're “launching” a new Sock of the Month program, starting with a solid workhorse of a sock pattern: The Launch Pad Socks. Unlike a NASA launch, these socks are easy - a basic, simple-to-knit pair of socks that uses just a single skein of Crock O Dye yarn from Knit One Crochet Too. If you have never knit socks, the Launch Pad Sock pattern is the perfect place to start! 

The Crock O Dye yarn is 65% superwash wool combined with silk and nylon that makes the yarn surprisingly bouncy and soft. Crock O Dye also has a sheen that you would expect from silk. While the yarn feels extra soft, the nylon and silk fiber combination reinforces the wool and will prove quite durable. Blast off with 12 yummy colors!

Launch Pad Socks
How does the Sock of the Month work?  Each month we'll be offering an exclusive new sock project, with progressively more interesting "skill building" opportunities. There's no registration required or fee of any kind.  The pattern each month will be free with the purchase of the yarn.  You can knit one project, or knit them all!

Socks are simple, right? Well, yes and no. They're small enough to get done quickly, but there is also some structure in a sock ... heels, toes, gussets, cuffs. This basic top-down pattern will teach you all the essential things you need to know to knit awesome socks.

There are a few different needle choices when knitting socks. Here are the most popular for knitting socks in the round:
    Double Point Needles, 1400-1410
  • Double Point Needles (dpn). Using double point needles is the oldest way to knit a seamless tube. You cast on like normal and then divide the stitches on to three needles to create a triangle or four needles to create a square. All those needles might appear complex, but it's not. You use your 4th or 5th needle (the one with that came in the pack that you haven't used yet) to knit the stitches off of one needle and on to the empty one you're holding. All the other needles just hang there, waiting for their turn.  Think of them as stitch holders
  • Two Circular Needles.  It is difficult to create the narrow tube of a sock with one circular needle. This is solved by simply using two circular needles at the same time similar to the way you would use double points.  You simply cast on to one needle like normal, divide the stitches on to the two needles, and then use the flexible circulars to work around.  KnittingHelp.com has a great instructional video on their YouTube channel. 
  •  Magic Loop.  The Magic Loop method is new - it was first published in 2002 - but it has quickly become the favorite method of many sock knitters.  It uses one very long circular needle to create a seamless tube of any size, from narrow socks to large sweaters.  The stitches are split so that half are on the needles and the other half are held on the cable, using the cable as a stitch holder.  Michelle Hunter has an excellent video demonstration.  
  • Two At A Time (TAAT).  Two at a time knitting knits two socks at the same time!  It is done using the Magic Loop method and two separate balls of yarn so that both items are on your needles at the same time.  TAAT is great for socks and anything else that requires creating two identical items, like sweater arms.  When you're done knitting you have both socks done at the same time and don't have to worry about the dreaded second sock syndrome (an affliction that prevents the "victim" from getting around to knitting the second sock!). Michelle Hunter explains TAAT knitting in her video instruction
The Launch Pad Socks are knit on double pointed needles, which I think is the easiest method to learn on.  We'll leave the Magic Loop and TAAT knitting for future projects!

Enjoy the Launch Pad Socks - and join us in May for the next project in the Sock of the Month series!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

*The artwork is a detail of the painting "Visit of the Angel" by Master Bertram of Minden, from the right wing of the Buxtehude Altar.  Bertram was a Gothic painter born in Minden, German in about 1345.  "Visit of the Angel" is the first known depiction of double pointed needles - and there doesn't appear to be any difference between Mary's needles and the dpn's we use today! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blocking 101 - And the Bearfoot and Bordeaux Shawl Free Pattern!

Barefoot and Bordeaux Shawl
Have you heard about Amy's newest design, the Barefoot and Bordeaux Shawl?  Using only one skein of Mountain Colors' Bearfoot yarn, this shawl features a simple-to-knit lace pattern.  It's a light-weight shawl that's still remarkable warm!

Bonus:  We have Bearfoot, and All Mountain Colors yarns, on sale at 20% off for the month of April!

Super Bonus:  The Barefoot and Bordeaux Shawl pattern is FREE with the purchase of Bearfoot yarn during the month of April!

So once you knit the Barefoot and Bordeaux Shawl, how do you block it?

Sure, it's a drag to do one more thing when it feels like you should be done!  But blocking can make the difference between a good looking project and a great looking project, so it's worth it every time.  Blocking removes the bumps and wrinkles and makes a garment look crisp and finished.

While garments have to be reblocked after they are washed, shawls are rarely washed, your blocking efforts will last a good long time!

Start by knowing your yarn.  Wool blocks well, as does any plant or animal fiber.  Don't bother blocking acrylic, or any blend with too much acrylic - it just simply won't work. 

To begin blocking start by soaking the shawl in warm (but not hot!) water.  You can soak it in plain water, or add a bit of Eucalan to add a lovely scent.  Remove the shawl and squeeze (but do not wring) some of the excess water out.  Then wrap it in a towel, and squeeze more water out.  The goal is to remove as much water as possible so that it will dry quicker.

A pretty lace edge only gets prettier with blocking!
Next, it's time to lay out your shawl and block it. I use these foam rubber blocking mats, but you can also lay towels out on a table, or even use a clean, carpeted floor floor - as long as you don't have kids or pets who are going to walk over it.  A bed also works.  Make the bed first, so that the bedspread is good and tight!

Lay out the damp shawl on the surface of your choice and use blocking pins or T-pins to secure your shawl to your workspace.  Be sure to use rust proof pins.  Start pinning in the center and work towards the edges. Smooth it out as you go.  This is your chance to make any adjustments to even out your work. Rounded edges will require more pins, straighter edges need less, but in any case there is no such thing as too many pins!

Let it dry, then unpin and marvel at your work of perfection!

Are you a more visual learner?  Check out Michelle Hunter's instructional video on blocking

Then kick off your shoes to enjoy your Barefoot and Bordeaux Shawl with the new spring grass between your toes and a bottle of Bordeaux!

Happy Knitting! . . . . Amy

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mountain Colors Yarns and Patterns - All 20% Off!


April is here and everything is blooming and coming to life - daffodils, tulips, and, of course, yarn!  Mother Nature puts out her very best colors in the spring - so we are, too!  We have all 27 of Mountain Color's popular yarns in stock, in lots of colors and ready to ship.  Not enough color for you?  No problem.  As you might know, Mountain Colors has over 100 colors to choose from, so stocking every color in every yarn is close to impossible. But if you want a yarn / color combo we don't have in stock you can Special Order it and get fast delivery.

Bonus:
Alpaca Blend in Snow Tree
  For the month of April, all Mountain Colors yarns and patterns are on sale at 20% off!


Double Bonus:  That's all Mountain Colors Yarn yarns - including Special Order colors!

So which yarn should you choose?  That's a toughie, I like them all!  But here are some favorites:
  • What's not to like about alpaca? The yarn is yummy and soft, and those alpacas sure are cute!  Alpaca Blend is 50% superfine alpaca and 50% wool for the ultimate warm, soft yarn. Where can you get it?  Only at FiberWild!  If you are extra special and unique (and we think you are!) then go for a FiberWild! exclusive color in the FiberWild! exclusive Alpaca Blend
  • You won't be going barefoot when you have Bearfoot!  Bearfoot is both supple and strong - tough as a grisly bear but as snuggley as a teddy bear.  The Superwash wool and mohair make it a soft yarn, with a bit of nylon added for durability.  Bearfoot is great for warm socks, delicate shawls and fine gauge sweaters. 
  • Are you a spinner?  Skip the yarn and go for the roving!  Bluefaced Leicester Roving and Targhee Top Roving are both soft fibers with a nice crimp and an easy 3 inch staple length. 
So now what will you knit?  That's easy, because all Mountain Colors Yarn pattens are also 20% off for the month of April.  Hooray!
Back to Basics Cardigan
Gradient-1 Shawl
Have you seen the Gradient-1 Shawl?  The shawl uses the new Twizzle Gradient Pack colorways.  It's the Twizzle yarn in three variations of the same color - a dark, a medium and a light.  The Gradient-1 Shawl is knit with one yarn pack. Start knitting the skinny end with the lightest color; build with the medium value and finally add a little texture with the darkest color at the wide end. The shawl is done primarily in stockinette stitch with garter ridges at the color changes and some lace patterning with the dark color. 

Bonus:  The Twizzle Gradient Packs are 20% off, and the Gradient-1 Shawl pattern is free with the purchase of your Gradient Yarn Pack!

The Mountain Colors Yarn colors just aren't enough - we also have our own FiberWild! exclusive colors!  Every few months we get color inspired, and, like color junkies everywhere, we just need more!  The ladies at Mountain Colors Yarn take our ideas and create a new color just for FiberWild!  I create a few new patterns to compliment the yarn, and we give the pattern to you free when you purchase the associated FiberWild! exclusive yarn.  Who wouldn't want that! 

(Pssst!  Don't tell anyone, but we will be announcing a new Game of Thrones FiberWild! exclusive color and pattern soon!)

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Monday, March 30, 2015

All Liberty Wool Print 20% Off - Plus a Free Pattern!

1. Magic Carpet Pullover & 2. Deep Valley Cardigan
We're in love with Liberty Wool Print yarn from Classic Elite!  Liberty Wool Print is a soft worsted-weight machine-washable 100% wool yarn in a huge assortment of self-striping colorways.

Thankfully, Classic Elite is in love with Liberty Wool Print too! This year, they're adding twelve new shades to the line, and we're bringing them all to you!  They're releasing two new colorways six times this year - and we can't wait to see them all!

The first pair of new colors are Deep Valley and Magic CarpetDeep Valley is an earthy blend of brown, red, gray, cream and green that brings to mind a secluded valley hidden behind a canopy of trees. Hold the yarn up to your ear - you can almost hear the rustle of leaves as the deer scurry about in the woods.  Start knitting now and you can finish your project in time to wear for Earth Day on April 22nd!

Liberty Wool Print in Deep Valley
Magic Carpet invokes the rich, bold colors of the Orient.  Blue, black, pink, purple, red and brown combine for a magical flight across your needles and dreamy stories of harems, flying carpets, handsome sultans and magic genies.  

What should you knit with the two new colors?  We've got that covered, because with the purchase of Liberty Wool Print colors you can choose a free pattern, either the Magic Carpet Pullover or the Deep Valley Cardigan.  Both are simple designs that let the self striping yarn take the stage.

Want more choices?  We're highlighting Liberty Wool Print's two new colorways, but there are over 40 colorways to choose from!

Liberty Wool Print in Magic Carpet
Bonus:  You can choose the Magic Carpet Pullover or the Deep Valley Cardigan pattern free with the purchase of any Liberty Wool Print colors - not just the two new colors!

Double Bonus:  All Liberty Wool Print colors are on sale at 20% off!

Prefer solids?  Liberty Wool is the solid sibling to Liberty Wool Print.  These 20 great solids look great combined with Liberty Wool Print - or by themselves. 

More Patterns!  More Patterns!  It's easy to find patterns for nice worsted weight yarn.  Scroll down to the bottom of the Liberty Wool Print page for some of my favorites!

When the next two new Liberty Wool Print colorways are revealed (in a month or so) there will be two new free patterns - so be sure to check back!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Friday, March 20, 2015

Give Magic to Your Princess with Abracadabra Color Changing Yarn!


Magic Princess Pattern Set
HiKoo spins fun into their new color-changing Abracadabra yarn! Abracadabra starts out as a natural color ... add sunlight (and a little magic) and the yarn slowly turns either pink or purple!

This yarn is seriously cool stuff! Both the pink and purple start off a natural/white color. The wool is blended with one-of-a-kind UV reactive polypropylene.  When it is exposed to the UV rays of the sun the yarn comes to life, changing from cream to vibrant pink or purple.  Walk inside and the color changes back to natural.

The yarn just makes you want to create! Phantom stripes, ribs, cables, or colorwork appearing and disappearing . . . unique and fun children's clothes or accessories . . . beachwear that has extra pizazz . . . ski gear that will have you dazzling on the slopes . . . let your imagination run wild!

Purse in Sunlight
It is a slightly different gauge, but HiKoo recommends pairing Abracadabra with Simplicity from KiHoo for multi-colored projects.  Having worked with the two together, it does work well.

Purse Indoors
It was impossible to limit myself to just one fun project for this yarn!  The Magic Princess Set is three separate projects: a hat, leggings and a purse to add some magic to your favorite little girl princess.  The knitting itself is quite simple, but if you're knitting indoors, all three yarns will look white - so keeping track of which yarn is which will be important! All three patterns - leggings, hat, and purse - are worked in the round with stripes of pink and purple Abracadabra intermixed with stripes of white in Simplicity.  These simple projects are genuinely adorable in their own right, but then when sunlight hits them … it's MAGIC!!

For your convenience, we have put together pattern sets with all the yarn you need to knit the hat, purse or leggings.  The sets can be purchased individually - or save with the All Three package!

Magic Princess Pattern Set
Bonus:  The pattern is FREE with the purchase of any of the yarn sets. 

Easter is just two weeks away!  Is your little princess wearing a frilly new dress for Easter?  The leggings are a perfect accessory to keep her bare legs warm at sunrise church services or chilly morning egg hunts!

Non-toxic and safe for kids and pets. The polypropylene is dyed with a photochromic dye, which is child-safe and non-toxic. It's the same dye used in color change sunglasses, printed t-shirts, etc.  Our red-sweatered kitty Scout wouldn't stand for anything that wasn't safe for kids and pets!

So who is our little princess?  The Little Shepherdess, Evelyn Craft, daughter of our employee and yarn producer Suzy the Shepherdess.   What a cutie!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Solar Waves Wrap - Free with Jilly Lace Yarn Purchase

Solar Waves Wrap
What are you going to wear?  Spring is that awkward time of year when it can be downright cold in the morning then sunshiny gorgeous in the afternoon.  So how can you plan what to wear?

Wraps are a perfect springtime accessory!  Wrap it snugly around your shoulders in the chilly mornings and drape it loosely in the warm afternoons.  And the Solar Waves Wrap is like having merry beams of sunshine on your shoulders!  Knit the Solar Waves Wrap in the fiery Hey, Sunshine colorway of Dream in Color's Jilly Lace and you'll be humming along with John Denver "Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy!"

Bonus:  The Solar Waves Wrap is free with the purchase of Jilly Lace yarn!

Never worked with Jilly Lace?  Here is the project you've been waiting for!  Knit with just one skein of Jilly Lace, the lace fabric lets the hand-dyed yarn be the star.  Worked from short end to short end, the entire project is no more complicated than yarn-overs and simple decreases. This project is ideal for even first-time lace knitters!  Seriously, the whole lace pattern is only ten stitches wide and sixteen rows long with front-side only patterning - meaning the YOs and K2togs are only every other row.  So you'll have the stitch pattern memorized before you know it.

Solar Waves Wrap
Dream in Color's Jilly Lace is a beautiful lace weight yarn.  It's an evenly spun superwash merino single-ply that takes dye beautifully and has a lovely sheen when struck by light.  The ladies at Dream in Color hand-dye gorgeous colorways both in "nearly solids" as well as softly blended multis.  I picked Hey, Sunshine for my wrap, but we've got over 30 in-stock colors to choose from as well as an additional 49 special order colors.

Double Bonus:  All Dream in Color yarn, including Jilly Lace, is on sale at 20% off until the end of March!

Knit the Solar Waves Wrap for your spring accessorizing - then wear it all year round as a reminder of spring!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy